Silence and Displacement in Ivan Turgenev and George Moore

In: Silence in Modern Irish Literature

First published in 1852, Ivan Turgenev’s The Sportsman’s Sketches was a direct influence on George Moore’s short-story collection, The Untilled Field of 1903, an important contribution to the Irish Literary Revival. Employing Elisabeth Loevlie’s concept of literary silence, this chapter examines the oscillating quality and defamiliarising aspect of silence that transitions from Turgenev to Moore. Silence connects deeply to place in the stories of both authors, stories that also put into relief a feeling of displacement that their characters struggle to articulate, ultimately find it to be inexpressible. Detailed descriptions of local rural environments in the stories of both authors deepen feelings that characters hold of not belonging where they feel that they ought to belong. These descriptions are embedded in the brief and elliptical narrative form of the sketch or short story, the form that Moore—under Turgenev’s influence—found to be most effective in expressing his image of the rudimentary and provincial nature of rural Irish society.